Information Security Awareness Lead, Europe
At SAP, we believe that when you bring everything you are, you can become everything you want.
It’s a great privilege to work in a field that focuses on a fundamental human right – the right to privacy.
SAP is at the forefront of cyber security. Learn more from one of our experts, Birgit Hess, Information Security Awareness Lead, Europe.
The start of my career at SAP is pretty unique: I grew up in Walldorf, and was an ice cream server in our SAP canteen starting at age 15. Thankfully, I’ve managed to work my way up the career ladder since then.
After acquiring my Master’s Degree in Bioengineering, I began my first professional position at SAP in 2005 in product support. I have since held roles in partner management, followed by a position as training for the sales and presales divisions. I am a curious person, so I thought, if I’m training sales and presales employees, I think I should actually perform one of these roles.
With my manager’s support, I moved into a presales job. Lucky for me, SAP offers so many opportunities for employees to continue to explore that curiosity and allowed me to move between departments and to expand my knowledge base.
During my time as a pre-sales consultant, I was exposed to data protection and security and I fell in love. Cyber security is such a diverse and exciting field, I was hooked from the moment I was first exposed to it. For the last eight years, it has kept me interested and very busy with its endless opportunities for growth. Since taking on my latest role, as part of our Enablement & Engagement department, I have had the chance to share my expertise with a variety of stakeholders.
My current role allows me to work with our internal and customer-facing teams to ensure that customers understand the technical and organizational measures SAP implements to secure their systems. I’ve learned something really interesting in my last few years: security is really a very emotional topic. Sure, companies will always worry about cyber security from a compliance and regulatory perspective. But what I have found from working day to day with our customers is that it’s a much more personal issue for them. A security or data breach could drastically slow down or even destroy their business. So, my discussions are really focused how SAP products can help protect their business, their livelihoods, and the livelihood of their employees. It’s a great privilege to work in a field that focuses on a fundamental human right – the right to privacy. Data privacy is only possible if we know how to protect our data.
As a woman in the cyber security field, I think seeing this emotional component from my customers’ perspective has really helped me build trust. Some security experts have a very technical approach to the topic, but as a woman, I look to understand my customers’ challenges and fears, and bring a solution and language that is agreed upon jointly.
SAP’s Global Security department is at the forefront of the cyber security. Some people think of security as an appendix, or an afterthought in product development. At SAP, it certainly is not; cyber security is at the center of everything we do, an essential part of every product. Knowing that the work that I am doing is so critical to SAP’s strategy and our customers’ strategies is what has kept me feeling fulfilled and has kept me on my “toes”.
I am certainly excited to continue my journey for the years to come.
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